San Mateo, Calif. (BCN)– Some affordable housing residents in San Mateo County now have access to the pilot project of a free transit pass compatible with every public transit agency in the nine-county Bay Area. Affordable housing residents at properties managed by MidPen Housing gained access to the Clipper BayPass program Monday as regional transit officials seek to make public transit easier to use and gauge the demand for a universal fare system.

BayPass is also being made available to students at Santa Rosa Junior College and select students at San Francisco State University, San Jose State University and University of California, Berkeley. “Our residents often face transportation and access barriers, and the Clipper BayPass presents significant cost-savings for our communities amidst trying financial times,” MidPen Housing resident services director Danielle McCluskey said.

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The Metropolitan Transportation Commission the agency overseeing transportation planning, financing and development in the Bay Area and roughly two dozen transit agencies will participate in the pilot program over the next two years. The four schools and MidPen Housing were chosen for the project in part because they each already have a transit pass that reduces or eliminates the fare cost for one or multiple public transit systems.

MTC officials estimate that the first phase of the pilot will cost roughly $6 million, much of which will reimburse fare revenue for participating transit agencies. The second phase, planned for early 2023, would make BayPass available to employees at up to 10 employers across the Bay Area. The BayPass pilot is expected to continue through the end of 2024.

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